City facilitates discussion on marijuana regulations in Davis
With the passing of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Prop. 64), cities across California are creating their own policies and regulations for medical and non-medical (also called “adult-use”) cannabis usage. On Feb.1, the Davis City Council and its staff held an unofficial meeting to hear the thoughts and concerns of community members regarding cannabis use and to increase the transparency of city decisions.
With over 100 people present, there was an unusually varied mix of ages — even high school and college-aged individuals were fairly well-represented at the discussion. The community responded to a number of questions presented about outdoor cultivation regulations and zoning and about regulation on cannabis businesses like delivery services or dispensaries.
The city currently has a moratorium on outdoor cultivation and dispensaries in order to determine what regulations should be put into place to help minimize any negative outcomes; however, the city will enforce a strict schedule to discuss and draft appropriate policies in a timely manner. Davis plans to issue licenses for cannabis businesses and cultivation beginning in January 2018.
“Right now we do not allow medical cannabis dispensaries and I think there was an overwhelming sense that it was something we should consider,” Mayor Robb Davis said. “I think there was a strong push by many of the people there to allow for limited outdoor growing, too.”
Davis addressed public health concerns about safety, quality control and labeling. His goal is to ensure that some cannabis products, such as edible cookies or candies, are properly labeled to avoid any over-use or accidental use by vulnerable groups, including children who may be unaware they are consuming cannabis.
The focus of the discussion was to increase the accessibility of cannabis for medical purposes and to increase residents’ access to obtain it. There may be some benefits to recreational use — such as tax revenue — but the city also wants to ensure that a new legalized controlled substance regime is safe for all community members.
Brett Lee, a Davis city councilmember, made note of such concerns, such as the proximity of cannabis businesses to schools, but he noted that a majority of the people at the meeting were supportive of the change and were not against adult-use either.
“It was more about the detail of it, like ‘Oh we don’t want to have the rules too onerous,’ or ‘It would be nice if local businesses could be involved as opposed to outside businesses,’” Lee said. “The discussion had moved beyond ‘yes or no’ in terms of legalization and into, ‘It’s legal, so let’s make it as convenient and local friendly as possible.’”
The city had decided to focus on medical cannabis policy this year, since medical and adult-use cannabis are separate issues.
“A lot of the work that we do in cannabis policy is working towards shattering the stereotypes and propaganda that has been perpetuated over the decade […] without any real scientific rationale or background,” said Eric Gudz, the chief operating officer of Integrate Cal Community Partners, an organization that develops community strategies in the cannabis industry. “Since cannabis has been lumped in with other substances and associated with the black market, a lot of the issues people associated with cannabis and cannabis trade or commerce are really more of a product of [that].”
Gudz said that many of these concerns were flushed out during the meeting, which helped create a productive community discussion. He commended the Davis City Council for its support, reason and diligence during the process.
There will be one more community outreach meeting (date TBA) before city staff will draft proposed regulations. From there, it will go to the planning commission before reaching city council for a verdict on policy.
Written By: Bianca Antunez — firstname.lastname@example.org